From the Artistic Director, Nicholas Daniel



The warmest of welcomes to our 2019 Festival. 

Human ageing is a curious thing. The received wisdom is that we start off playfully in our early lives, then as we move through the years and the decades we generally begin to have more involuntary thoughts about dying and the meaning of death. But how does one explain the extreme depth of understanding in, say, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, written when he was just 30, or Schubert’s Winterreise, also written at the age of 30 or Mark Simpson’s astounding, sensitive and profoundly affecting work The Immortal, written when he was 26? 

Perhaps those as gifted as these three have to pay the Ferryman in some ways we mortals don’t always fully understand, but I would hate to think of my friend Mark Simpson suffering as Schubert and Mozart did in their lives. 

Maybe this is not about suffering at all but about sensitivity; by which I mean the talent that composers have to be able to give up their egos and enter into a subject with huge concentration, living through its sounds and characters as a great actor does, while simultaneously using all the skills given by nature, and tuned and fashioned by their sheer intelligence, their learning, and the external forces they are exposed to? 

Of all the practitioners in the Arts I have most respect for composers. I stand in awe of the patience required to stitch their pieces together, pulled from the head and heart like a magic thread, and the reality is that a great unspoken skein of gold in our British cultural lives is that we have more great composers living amongst us now per capita than anywhere in the world. It’s a musical biodiversity of astounding richness and contrast and, with the new attention quite rightly given to female and non-binary composers, we could be living in a time when Britain’s richesse in this respect could more than double - so long as new money is made available for composers rather than simply robbing Peter to pay Petra! 

So in our Festival this year, assisted by our excellent team of Trustees steered magnificently by Kevin Rush our new Chairman, we will look in depth at music written by three composers whilst in their twenties (and early thirties). I hope that, as we all remember our own twenties and marvel at the skills of these masters, we will in turn feel closer to them all as humans, not as immortals. Mark Simpson is bringing not only his music but also his beautiful clarinet and we are leading a team of truly great musicians who will be resident in Leicester for the whole week, rehearsing and performing.

I strongly urge you, if you possibly can, to hear every concert, as my way of programming is carefully controlled in terms of sounds, keys and atmosphere, and in instinctive ways I sometimes only discover at the end of hearing every concert! It is, and should be, an immersive experience where you get to know the team not as visitors, but as your own home team, there for a whole week for you.